Not everything needs to be a cinematic universe.
“John Wick: Chapter 4” was released in theaters on March 24, and marks a hugely successful conclusion to the “John Wick” series— or so it would seem; Lionsgate doesn’t want to let go just yet. The series began in 2014, starting as a modest twist on the assassin-action genre. It quickly became a sensation and catapulted Keanu Reeves back into the limelight. Consecutively spurring three sequels, it has become a popular action series.
When things like this happen, studios are unlikely to stop milking it for money until it’s thoroughly overstayed its welcome. Unfortunately, it seems “John Wick” could be heading in this direction. After the box office success of the fourth film, Lionsgate has tentatively stated they are considering a fifth film.
Currently, the four films are considered practically flawless, with the latest installment boasting an impressive 95% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing this article. It has already been announced that a prequel spin-off series following the man who runs the hotel seen throughout all the films is in progress, and undoubtedly other prequels/spinoffs will follow. This is a good idea for the studio to capitalize on the well-liked universe that has been created, and no doubt audiences will flock to whatever project is put out next. But, is it a good idea for the integrity of the story?
The films are John Wick’s tale— focusing on his goal to live a peaceful and normal life while reluctantly fighting and killing those who would disrupt this — and the fourth film provides a satisfying conclusion. While further productions will likely not continue with Wick, they may include him and expand on lore. Narratively, this could be a mistake.
It would be more satisfying (and safer) to end it now on a high note before people are bored. This is not to generalize and say definitively that any prequels or spin-offs may be bad, but they need to be delicately considered. An entire fifth film within this storyline would be remarkably difficult to pull off. Wick’s story arc is focused heavily on his search for closure and peace. Dragging the character out for money doesn’t align with said storyline, even if it’s a cameo, and simply risks soiling the character that has already had an appropriate journey and resolution.
Marvel is a cautionary tale of this type of mishap; too much media made too quickly has caused a steep decline in quality and engagement. The “John Wick” franchise is beloved, but it could meet the same end Marvel is edging close to, which would be a disservice to the films. Ending with the fourth film, and sticking with that, is the better option here. What made these films special was that they were unique and made with care, time, and precision.